My Kingdom

My kitchen. 

My comfort zone.  My safe place.  My hideaway.

I won’t cry: I will make an Apple Cake.

I won’t bang my head against the wall; I will start chopping onions on a pretty green cutting board, following Jacques Pépin’s precise instructions, and caramelize them slowly in a little olive oil. (Do try them on a burger).

I will avoid dwelling on the past, refuse to be tortured by regrets, what could have been if I had gone through the other door, if I had been wise at nineteen, if I had listened to my mother, if I…

It is small, my kitchen.  Counter space?  Will twenty inches do? Yes, my friends!  I can work in that little space just fine, spreading out to my sturdy wood kitchen table when I bake.  You don’t need yards of polished granite to perform, I assure you. You don’t need recessed lights, stainless appliances, French copper pots hanging from strategically placed hooks on the ceiling.

Or the ISLAND.

I never had the ISLAND in my life and, believe it or not, I’m  surviving.

Desire.  And passion.  With a touch of fury.  All you really need to become an outstanding baker and cook.  Not that I claim to be.

All I know is that when I am in the kitchen, I am okay.  I will put on my apron du jour, command (mostly) reliable Alexa to play something (Yes, Latin Pop works wonders), pour a glass of something other than lemonade, and become Chef.

The apron, by the way, is important.  I do have a little collection of them, since people who know me well gift them to me at times (and I go directly to the housewares department of TJ Maxx more often than not).  You slip on that crisp apron and…you’re on!

Getting serious in the kitchen.

You need to be serious.  And determined. 

Serious because you love it.  If you don’t, then make reservations.

The kitchen can heal you. You are broken, limp through your emotions, tremble secretly, swear never again, consider extreme options, then brush them aside.  You are going to cook!

My trusty black GE gas range is awaiting instructions. It’s four burners, by the way, not restaurant-size, but then, I’m not running a restaurant.  I clean it lovingly every evening, grateful for its reliability.  Yes, the Sausages and broccoli di rape were cooked perfectly, the meat tender, golden and flavorful (but I did keep a watchful eye).

I will not (usually) slam doors.  I will not drive aimlessly for two hours, boiling with anger, swearing revenge (at least, not for the whole two hours).

I will not book a flight to Paris with a credit card, shrugging whatever, had enough.

I will make a little gem of a flourless chocolate cake.  I will place it carefully on an egg-yolk-yellow cake stand which will enhance its simple perfection: I will buy fresh heavy cream, whip it to cloudy softness, add a hint of pure vanilla.

I will glance around my tiny yellow kitchen, smile at the colorful stacked bowls on the shelves across from the fridge, allow my patched-up heart to skip a beat at the sight of my French baking pan collection (gathered through numerous years of baking passion), trace the sharp curves of my Bundt pans, imagining all the glorious pound cakes to come.

I will turn the ache into a tender tart filled with satin-smooth lemon curd.

I will drown the sadness by bathing bright-green basil leaves in cool water, then patting them dry for an absolutely magnificent Pesto.

The kitchen can save your life.

The kitchen is my kingdom.

(Here is the link to the recipe for the Flourless Chocolate Cake).

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Apple Cake with Yogurt: Yes!

apple-cake-with-yougurt-7-vasetti

Can’t help it.

I can’t stop baking cakes for breakfast.  Still my favorite food to eat in the morning, with my super-black espresso.

It works, believe me.  A not-to-sweet-cake and an intense coffee (minus the sugar) propell you into the day ahead, cheerfully and filled with hope.

I love a new day: you just don’t know what life has in store for you.

A sweet breakfast, the Italian way.  Tried and true.

This is a delightful and very easy Apple Cake  made with yogurt and oil, a touch of lemon and, of course, Italian baking powder and vanilla.

Dolce e caffè.  Nothing better.

Good morning, world!

Apple Cake Forever

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Hide in the kitchen when the world growls.

Turn on the oven, anticipate the warmth and the aroma of cinnamon and vanilla and brown sugar.

Be in awe of the flawless beauty of rosy-cheeked golden delicious apples fresh from the orchards of a local farm, weigh them carefully in a low-tech European scale that is over thirty years old and still works like clockwork.  Stir the flour and sugar, measure out the spices, butter the jadeite baking pan, sift the powdered sugar for the icing.

Fall is still gentle, outside.  The afternoon sun smiles on the trees, the green leaves commingling with the reds and the yellows.

Autumn in New York, the kind season.

The winds of evil and desperation rage in a circle around our lives, slap our faces, and sometimes the blow is dizzying.

But the kitchen is a cocoon, the music is inspiring – Michael Cavanaugh, Bobby Barzini, young Indie artists who pour velvet on your senses, sexy, slow voices, acoustic sound, the only one and true.  Thus we let go of all that hurts and infuriates us – the unraveling of the world, the irrational fears and the picturefalse friends.

Make your tender apple cake (recipe); think Sunday morning, espresso, sleeping late.

And just breathe.

Torta di mele per sempre

19 ottobre 2014

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Nasconditi in cucina quando il mondo ti aggredisce.

I venti del male e della paura ti travolgono, ti sbattono nei mari dell’inferno creato da mostri umani.

La disperazione piove sull’anima e sulle strade della vita giornaliera.

Quelli là che ti giuravano di restarti ‘amici per sempre’ ti  abbandonano perché temono i sentimenti.  Scelgono la banalità di una vita tranquilla.   Si nascondono nello spazio’ sicuro’ della non-esistenza che è diventata la loro vita.

Lasciali andare, amici così non valgono poi tanto after all.  Potresti anche pictureconsiderarli infami.  Ma in realtà sono solo patetici.

Ma la cucina è calda e accogliente.  Autunno a New York: dolce, colorato, amico.

Gli alberi sono ancora vestiti di verde, con qualche tocco di rosso e arancione.  Le loro chiome spiccano nel cielo così turchino che sembra finto.

E tu ti accingi a preparare la mise en place – farina, uova, cannella e zenzero, burro morbido e pastoso, la pirofila verde giada, imburrata e in attesa della pastella corposa e profumata.

Le mele golden delicious sono fresche, colte da poco in una farm locale, buccie gialle e rosate, lisce, tenere, americanissime.

Spegni la TV, accendi l’iPod.  Mike Cavanaugh, nuovo artistaIndie, giovane, una voce che ti scivola addosso come un guanto di velluto, ma ti sorprende con delle scosse che t’infiammano.  Voce e chitarra, un po’ Cat Stevens, un po’ Jack Johnson, carezzevole, sexy, lenta, nostalgica.

La glassa poi, wow, morbida, densa, aromatizzata dallo zucchero di canna e dal puro estratto di vaniglia, quello profumatissimo che si trova solo in America.

Adagi le mele sul piatto della bilancia che hai da più di trent’anni, francese e low-tech,  ancora perfettamente precisa.  Poco più di una libbra, da sbucciare e tagliare a dadini con movimenti esperti e veloci.  Eh, sono anni che ti nascondi in cucina quando la vita ti tratta male, e la sua semplice magia non manca mai di ristorarti.

Il forno è pronto.  Che meraviglia sarà la colazione, domattina: il sole autunnale colora la cucina e il caffè borbotta nella moka, versato bollente nella tazzina rossa.

E una fetta di torta di mele che ti si scioglie in bocca.